It has been revealed that Google reserves the right to ignore and drop special characters from title tags, as reported on Search Engine Roundtable. Google’s John Mueller answered the following question on Twitter:
Marketers devote much of their time to trying to create attention-getting search listings. They do this via word choice, structure, and special characters. Special characters have been getting special notice lately considering the back on forth regarding Google’s allowance of their usage:
The debate over special characters began back in 2003 when it was “noticed that the www-lm data center [was] filtering out all the nifty unicode characters from the results… (stars, arrows, etc.).” Emojis then added to the debate. In 2012, the use of emojis in title tags was discovered, although it was suspected that Google would soon drop this practice as soon as they caught wind of it.
In 2014, Google continued to allow the usage of emojis in mobile title tags but not in desktop title tags. The next year, in April 2015, Google began allowing emojis in all title tags. It was a short-lived triumph for the emoji obsessed as a few weeks later, Google again dropped the use of special characters.
Unicodes in URLs
Does this policy apply to URLs? Not necessarily. About a year ago, Search Engine Roundtable also reported that the search result for the web version of WhatsApp had a symbol in it, which still appears as of press time when you search for the result’s title:
While unicodes in URLs definitely isn’t commonplace (and what’s more, isn’t technically allowed, according to StackOverflow ), it does seem that Google may allow some exceptions. According to IBM, most symbols are rewritten (just like binary code) as their HTML equivalent for better translation in URLs or pages. This simply makes it easier for symbols to be displayed properly, but it doesn’t always translate across countries or platforms. Not having URLs or metas removes the chance that a symbol won’t display correctly.
Since this is a URL, not a meta tag, this may be a differentiator between what Google chooses to drop or ignore.
If you’re not sure your meta titles and descriptions or URLs are up to snuff, our SEO audit and consulting services can get you on the right track.
Featured image via Pexels and screenshot taken May 2017